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X's & O's: Breaking Down the High-Low Offense Part 2 - High Post Entry and Ball Screens

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Further breaking down the new offense you'll see from Mizzou and our head coach Kim Anderson this coming season. The Self-High-Low is all over the college basketball scene these days.

Hopefully you've read part one of this two-parter on the Self High-Low offense. After reading that you should have a pretty good foundation of understanding of the offense. If not, do not fret, we're here to cover the rest of it. In the last post we talked about the base formation and what that means, plus the wing entry. In this post, we'll cover the other two ways to initiate the offense. Let's get started...

First things first, we're talking about the High Post entry.

A High Post entry is simply when the ball goes from the point to one of the post players at either elbow. When you're in a 4-high setup the defense will occasionally slack off a bit. This is generally the time to execute the High Post entry, since most defenses are going to give a post player a turnaround 15-foot jumper.

Once the post receives the ball the first thing he is going to look for is the back door basket cut from the ball side wing. If the defense falls asleep you have an easy two points, nothing more to worry about, carry on. This happens more than you expect because a players first instinct is to turn his head to where the ball is going. So if the ball goes to the post player standing next to him, he'll check it out and see if he can notch an easy steal, meanwhile the player he is supposed to be guarding is cutting right to the basket.

If that basket cut isn't open, the opposite wing can sometimes be open for a cross court "skip" pass as he drops to the corner.

Most of the time the action that you're looking for is the third look, where the point guard walks his defender towards the ball, then makes what is called a fade cut (which is really any time you are cutting away from the basketball), and receives a screen from the opposite post player.

The post skips the ball over to the point guard now on the opposite wing. As soon as the pass is made, both post players move down into a double screen for the wing who made the original basket cut.

There are three different ways to set this double screen. First is a stagger screen like we documented is part one. The second is a pinch screen. What happens with a pinch screen is the two players setting the screen stand near shoulder to shoulder. The offensive player runs his defender through the screen by going in between his two teammates, and they immediately step together to "pinch" the defender from his path. The third way is to just set a wide screen. Usually this is when the two screeners will just stand next to each other and be as stationary as possible to the player coming off the screen can determine how to run off of it.

Once the wing receives the ball from the point guard, it's very easy for the offense to get right back into their set. The posts simply flash high to the elbows, the point guard stays put, and the opposite wing cuts to the last spot on the floor to return to the beginning.

For fun, here is KU running this same action in the same game as before.

Kansasmemphis2_medium

A bit of a side note, the offense here runs brilliantly except for one thing. The lack of patience from a then freshman Sherron Collins. Instead of holding his stance and letting the offense run, he dribbles and by a beat misses Chalmers coming off the screen clean for the jumpshot. His two dribbles cost the team an easy three point attempt for their best shooter from that team. So while the offense runs flawlessly, it's ruined by an impatient freshman point guard. Eh, Kansas probably scored on the possession anyway.


The last type of entry into the offense we have to talk about is the Dribble Entry.

Often the ball can't be entered into the wing because the defense is playing to deny that type of pass. The easiest way to initiate the offense is to dribble to the spot you want to go. The dribble entry is effective because you can dribble at the player who is most effective at attacking the rim. It's also good to use when you have a PG who is fast, but maybe not a great shooter, you have a wing who is great with the pick and roll, and you have a good shooter.

To start the point guard dribbles directly at the wing player who cuts to the ball-side block. Once on the block the ball side post player screens down for the wing on the block. The wing sprints to the top of the key to receive the ball from the point guard now on the wing.

Before passing to the wing, the point guard should give a quick look to the post player setting the down screen just in case he is able to gain very good position by rolling from his screen. Every so often you can find an easy bucket by looking in before passing the ball to the top of the key.

If that isn't open the point guard swings the ball to the top of the key. The wing player receives the ball and will receive an immediate ball screen from the weak side post player. While this is happening the floor spacing is important, so the other wing player drops to the corner. As the wing comes off the screen he tries to turn the corner to attack the basket. If he can't turn the corner he fans out to the wing and lets the screener dive in towards the basket in a pretty basic pick and roll action (See Stockton-Malone). If he's able to turn the corner on the screen he also has the option to kick it to the corner for a three point attempt.

If none of these options are open the weak side post player cuts to the top of the key where he can receive the ball. He looks in for the high-low pass, or he reverses the ball. If he reverses the ball then the offense jumps back to something that happened in the Wing Entry posted in part 1.

It's almost as if there is an automatic trigger in the instance of a set up of 4-out and 1-in. Once the ball is reversed, the wing and post player set the double screen for the wing in the corner. This puts the pressure on the post defense to be in the right position on the post player near the block and will likely free up a shooter coming off a double screen.

Since we used Kansas for the animated gif above, let's switch it up and use Central Missouri this time. Here is Central Missouri playing against St. Mary's running the Dribble Entry of the Self High-Low. Watch how the defense plays the ball screen which creates the open lane to the basket. The ball side help defense has to choose between stopping the ball and leaving a good shooter open for a three point attempt.

Ucmstmu2_medium
You can see how the defense dictates what happens, the post defender does a terrible job of forcing the ball handler away from the rim so he's left to the help defense. The defense in the corner shows help but quickly retreats to defend the three point shot leaving the lane open. The opposite post isn't quite fast enough to get over to stop the layup. This is a textbook example and execution of the High-Low.


One thing that I haven't covered is the ball screen aspect of the offense. Ball screens happen a lot during the course of the game, and something that you'll probably notice a lot next year. I certainly didn't want anyone to think that I didn't know about the ball screen aspect of the high-low. At basically any time during the offense, a wing can call a post out to set a ball screen. And more that just the dribble entry.

The best time for this to happen would be in Figure 4 (of Part 1) as well as Figure 9 (above). A ball screen is difficult to guard because it puts pressure on defenders to make decisions. Mizzou was a great ball screen team in 2012 because of the pressure the speedy Phil Pressey could put on a defense with shooters like Marcus Denmon and Kim English sitting around the 3-point line. So the ball screen aspect of the High-Low offense is something that can take more or less of an emphasis depending on your personnel. Next year Mizzou lacks the presence of a truly great collection of shooters, so the ball screen will be used more to try to attack the rim.


To wrap up, the Self High-Low has potential to score a lot of points and do so quickly. It's dynamic because there are so many options to go through in a very shot period of time. It puts tremendous pressure on a defense, both on the ball side, and on the weak side, to be in the perfect position. The question at this point is how does the Mizzou personnel fit to make this offense a winner for Mizzou?

Why this offense is good for Mizzou? It allows them to take advantage of supreme athleticism in the post with players like Johnathan Williams III, Jakeenan Gant, Torren Jones and even Keanau Post. Rosburg can also be effective in this offense because of his great footwork and great size. The guards will love this because we will have guys that should be very effective attacking the basket. Wes Clark and Namon Wright are known for their ability to get to the rim and this will benefit them. Getting open shots on the perimeter will come down to guys like Cameron Biedscheid and maybe Tramaine Isabell. The shooting is what worries me a little about this team. But hopefully this Self High-Low will do a good enough job of getting good easy looks for our bigs to take the pressure off any three point shooting.

To end I found this really great YouTube video from Self's Illinois days. It shows offensive possession after offensive possession of Illinois just executing this offense and getting great looks. Here's to hoping this is what we have to look forward to in the coming years at Mizzou.